Narnia is Soon Alive

This might be the greatest news I've heard since I learned that Depp would be playing Willy Wonka. The Chronicles of Narnia are quite possibly seven of the greatest books ever written and I'm hoping that this rendition of The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe do the great CS Lewis justice. I can't wait!

Intellectual Happy Hour

Mark Cuban on the foray by Yahoo in to online music distribution. Mark is opinionated as usual, but he's right on by calling a challenge to RIAA. I think he's wrong by saying "This is the low point for subscription services." I can smell a price war around the corner and if music isn't free today, then it'll be a hell of a low-margin business really soon. They (RIAA) may not manage to control the end price, but they certainly will control the wholesale price and Yahoo, iTunes, & others will have to bank on volume.

Could this be any weaker? Sorry, Howard. No one likes a quitter.

However, it's not going to be easy for the next couple of years. The strong always survive.

Ronald Gruia, of Technology Futurist pen, speaks to one of my favourite topics -- the globalization of innovation. Business and online brands will certainly pop up everywhere around the world. Whether small Eastern European companies, for example, can create global empires remains to be seen. But, just like during the industrial revolution, entrepreneurs built successful companies in their local/regional markets, expect to see the same for Internet 2.0.

Jeff Nolan points me to a must read on the history of Post-It Notes.

Ken Laws, from PacRim Venture Partners posting on VentureBlog, has a great analogy that's definitely worth thinking about. Every entrepreneur, and business person for that matter, should understand the dynamics of this story.

VON on ENUM Economics

Bob Frankston, editor at VON Magazine, publishes a solid article on one of my favourite topics -- ENUM. I love it. But, is it possible for ENUM to truly overcome the PSTN? I know that the solution is great, but will the legacy allow their entire raison d'etre just be handed over to a bunch of free wheeling communication revolutionaries? There are trillions at stake here and they're not going to go quietly. Or, are they just too slow?

Bill Gates Talks Shit

Soon, on Pay-Per-View, Bill and Steve head-to-head, redux. Bill Gates recently told a German newspaper he doesn't believe Apple's iPod will maintain its dominant position in the MP3 player market over the long term. "I don't think the success of the iPod can continue in the long term, however good Apple may be," Gates told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "I think you can draw parallels here with the computer -- here, too, Apple was once extremely strong with its Macintosh and graphic user interface, like with the iPod today, and then lost its position." Currently, around 70% of all digital music players sold are iPods; Apple has sold a total of 15 million of the portable players.

Intellectual Happy Hour

Fred Wilson, of Union Square Ventures, writes an incredible post on the evolutions of Google. I agree with him, to a certain extent, Google is starting (only starting) to lose its mojo. Fred nails it on the head, "size is the enemy of efficiency and innovation."

The new XBox 360 sounds like it might just be another homerun for Bill Gates. I hope that game designers can meet the processing power available and user expectations. Let's see how this plays out.

Bo Peabody, from Village Ventures, writes a great column in the Venture Capital Journal on how startups attract the most eclectic and intelligent people. I would agree with eclectic, but intelligence is definitely a subjective assessment that might be somewhat biased.

Jeff Nolan points to the Strategic Board that calls out notes from Jeff Bussgang who blogs live from the Microsoft VC Conference in the Bay Area. The cry is the death of enterprise software - definitely agreed. But, I would further add that I strongly believe in "The Rise of the Stupid Enterprise" and mass customization of corporate user applications (I'm actually in the process of drafting an essay on this).

John Battelle comments on the acquisition by the NY Times. It's great that the old guard is stepping up and rolling with the times (no pun intended). John says; "About provides the Times a platform to explore microcontent without having to - necessarily - extend the Times' brand to everything. And as I've told anyone who will listen to me, I think microcontent is key to winning in the Web 2.0 publishing world." Right on John. The long tail may be a buzzword, as is the concept of microcontent, but in the world of print media, local-local has always been big business. And, this is just the equivalent online.

Michael Stroud posts on AlwaysOn about how Yahoo is, in fact, quite similar to Apple in a fundamental way. Uh huh. So. Call me crazy, but I just don't see Yahoo making a dent in the world of online music. The media business, produced music and video content is not anywhere near letting itself get controlled by an aggregate listing service such as Yahoo. I tend to think (and maybe even hope) that Hollywood will eventually come to play in this arena, and it won't be as simple as what Yahoo proposes.

Marketing is a Story

Fortune, the magazine, prints an excerpt from Seth Godin's new book, All Marketers Are Liars. It's a really well written piece and its a fun read. Introspectively, every one can certainly relate to countless situations where a purchase or action has been made based on great marketing rather than pragmatic quality or price.

The piece makes me think of a quote by one of my former managers, Peter Jones, who repeatedly preached that "equity is a story and there are many non-monetary components of any valuation." There is a spin everywhere... And, great companies always have a solid marketing story.

Polycom QSX Appliance

As a fan of conference & collaboration, I couldn't help but be extraordinarily excited about the announcement by Polycom of QSX. I have yet to use one, but based on what I've read it's sure to be a hit.

It enables anyone using a Polycom conference phone to share computer content with remote meeting participants. The QSX device basically enables ad-hoc content sharing for anyone in the conference call without requiring service/usage fees or document uploading. Participants can see content automatically though the room's projector or through a Java-enabled web browser. The device connects to the conference phone, projector, and the Internet and after that handles all the protocols transparently and instantly.

This is certainly an innovative approach to room-based conferencing collaboration. And, for about $1,500 I think it might just work.

Intellectual Happy Hour

Telephony Online reports that Verizon Wireless this week announced plans to accelerate EV-DO network expansion in the New York City area. Bring it on!

A new venture blogger posts a classic discussion on diversification as seen by the venture community. It's a hilarious post on the oversimplification of one's assets. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether you're diversified at all or not (in your day-to-day job) but rather if you love what you do. If you want to diversify, and you work in venture or for a startup, buy t-bills or real estate.

Bill Gross publishes an incredibly well written investment outlook, which discusses the theory of singularity, the coincidence of real housing price appreciation to real interest rates, and his thoughts that real yields bottom out in 2003 & many asset classes will likely see a decline as rates climb.

Louis Philip has a great post on the various exit alternatives for the softphone player Skype. I continue to wonder if voice services (and the resulting M&A market) will highly resemble the world of portals and dot-coms of years past. By that I mean, is a consumer VoIP player akin to Lycos or Yahoo?

Morgan Stanley on Real Rates

Stephen Roach, from Morgan Stanley, denounces the Federal Reserve as being spineless in the face of public outcry and calls for dramatic action to calm our current financial worries. He starts by saying: "In all my years in this business, never before have I seen a central bank attempt to spin the debate as America’s Federal Reserve has over the past six or seven years."

And, then, wraps up with a calling: "The day is close at hand when US monetary policy must get real. At a minimum, that will require a normalization of real interest rates. Given the excesses that now exist, it may even require a federal funds rate that needs to move into the restrictive zone -- possibly as high as 5.5%. Yes, this would cause an outcry -- perhaps similar to that which occurred in the spring of 1997 on the occasion of the Original Sin. But in the end, there may be no other choice. Fedspeak has taken us into the greatest moral hazard dilemma of all -- how to wean an asset-dependent system from unsustainably low real interest rates without bringing the entire House of Cards down. The longer the Fed waits, the more perilous the exit strategy."

I'm not sure I can entirely agree with him on his opinion of historical actions, but I definitely do agree with his thoughts on how things should be handled moving forward.